A new study conducted by political scientists at the University of Indiana claims that the more tweets about you, the more likely you are to win an election.
From among a random selection of more than 500 million tweets sent from August 1 to November 1, 2010, the researchers found that about 500,000 of those tweets mentioned a specific Congressional candidate. And 93% of the time, the politician who got the most mentions on Twitter won his or her election.
Whether that tweet was a positive or negative mention about the candidate didn’t matter, just the volume around a particular individual, the authors said. Even negative Twitter buzz helped predict the winner.
Some political watchers are skeptical. Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call wrote on his blog:
“The idea that the content of tweets is irrelevant, and that it doesn’t matter if the tweets originate from inside a district or from people who cannot even vote in the race, seems to fly in the face of logic and everything that political scientists believe.”
An author of the study, Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University, discussed the findings on The Daily Rundown.
“The theory we’re using to explain the results is that all publicity, or most publicity, is usually good publicity,” he said. “For example, I always think about the Tea Party. Their preferred candidate would probably have been Mitt Romney, but they can’t stop talking about Barack Obama right now because he won the election.”
He added, “If you are in a race, and you’re generating buzz, then people are going to talk about you whether they like you or not, and you’re right, the buzz is an indicator that you’re picking up support–that you might be on the verge of victory.”
But what about Anthony Weiner? Despite increasing amounts of buzz on social media platforms, Weiner’s polling numbers keep dropping, which appears to disprove the study’s claims. Will the “Twitter effect” benefit him?
“With these studies, we always talk about trends…however, because human life is messy, there’s always going to be something that doesn’t fit,” Rojas added. “And scandals are an example of something that’s going to start distorting your social media presence in a way that may not be reflective of what people truly think about you.”
What do you think? Can Twitter mentions really predict who will win an election? Tell us what you think in our poll.